Royal Navy swoop to track Russian warship in English Channel

HMS Hurworth has swooped to track Russian frigate Admiral Makarov (Image: MOD)

A BRITISH minehunter has been sent to keep tabs on a Russian warship which has entered the English Channel, Royal Navy chiefs have confirmed.

HMS Hurworth, a Portsmouth-based minehunter, is tracking Russian frigate Admiral Makarov as it passes through the Channel in a monitoring exercise that usually lasts about 48 hours.

It is the fourth time the naval commanders have been forced to deploy ships to observe Russian movements around Britain in the last two months.

A spokesman for the Royal Navy confirmed an interception had taken place but said further comment could not be given because the operation was still “ongoing”.

He said full details of the mission will be released when the operation has been completed.

A number of Vladimir Putin's ships have sailed through the English Channel to begin operations following Russia's navy parade in Saint Petersburg.

MoD officials have refused to comment on the exact number of Russian ships passing the UK but said that over the past two months.

But patrol ship HMS Mersey, destroyer HMS Diamond and frigate Montrose have all been involved in observation activities one the summer.

The head of the Royal Navy, First Sea Lord Admiral Sir Philip Jones, said in a speech in May that Britain was facing "significantly emboldened Russian Naval activity, which is continually testing our resolve".

And Captain Jerry Kyd, commanding officer the UK’s biggest ever warship, HMS Queen Elizabeth, said the Royal Navy faced “eye-watering threats” from Russia.

He said: "The increase in Russian activity we have seen in the last couple of years is frightening and for national security reasons it just underlines why we need to maintain a balanced, strong and able, capable fleet.

"It's been quite eye-watering what we have seen in the last couple of years."

HMS Diamond monitored two Russian warships earlier in August, while in January, Royal Navy frigate HMS Westminster was sent to monitor four Russian vessels as they passed close to British waters.